The Longest Day in a Spinning World

The summer solstice June 21 slid by on a cloudy chilly day with buckets of rain on the Eastern Shore of Maryland so that I barely noticed the longest day.

As summer officially begins, the light starts to retreat as the earth tilts slowly away from the sun, at least in the northern hemisphere. Whatever the vagaries on the surface—politics, wars, elections, hurricanes, coups or celebrations—the earth moves imperceptibly beneath our feet.

For me, June before the solstice meant a week in Chicago with book events, significant for my new novel Burning Distance and for an interview with Lisa See about her new novel Lady Tan’s Circle of Women and an energized discussion with novelist Sara Paretsky about censorship and banned books, the latter events at the American Writers Museum.

On this trip, I fell in love with Chicago, a city I’ve visited before but never for as long a stretch. Walking along Michigan Avenue from Millennium Park with detours down to the Chicago River and up to the rooftop of London House, I passed (and contributed to) a musician on almost every street corner playing the sax or French horn or violin or music from a box. I had a soggy sprint to an opening night of a new musical at the Goodman Theater.

While the earth spins beneath us, Chicago reminds us to enjoy the moments—cold or hot, windy or still, pouring rain or bright sun (sometimes all in the same 24 hours)—and to enjoy the music.

The song heralds: “Bet your bottom dollar, you’ll lose the blues in Chicago.”

And the universe echoes back!



  1. Julia Malone on June 27, 2023 at 12:27 pm

    Love the ode to Chicago! Makes me want to visit again and linger longer.

    • Joanne Leedom-Ackerman on June 27, 2023 at 4:54 pm

      First went there as a camper as did you en route to Northern Michigan camp but since had only gone for brief meetings or events. It is a great city!

  2. Wendy Roth on June 27, 2023 at 12:31 pm

    WIth family roots dating to the 1800s, and 1/3 of my own life there, it’s GREAT to read about your fresh appreciation for this wonderful city. Thank you for sharing the fun photos too!

    • Joanne Leedom-Ackerman on June 27, 2023 at 4:57 pm

      I enjoy thé stories of your growing up there!

  3. Deena Ackerma on June 27, 2023 at 1:07 pm

    Glad you got to spend some quality time in Chicago. What a wonderful city.

    • Joanne Leedom-Ackerman on June 27, 2023 at 4:56 pm

      It is a great city— wind, rain, snow hot & cold and the music! Though not as much fun in winter.

  4. Bob Forrest on June 27, 2023 at 5:55 pm

    On my 2 visits, it rained heavy everyday. Would like to visit w/o rain sometime.

    • Joanne Leedom-Ackerman on June 27, 2023 at 6:10 pm

      Yes, much better w/ the sun! And lives up to its name as the Windy City so better in warm weather!

      • Marilyn Hamlin Palasky on June 29, 2023 at 11:38 am

        yes, your breezy thoughts about Chicago freshened some memory moments in response.
        wondering why I would experience this 2023 longest day in Las Vegas, Nevada as my Iowa cousin’s thought came through “grow where you’re planted”.
        remembering for three months, I lived on Rush Street while I played the Goodman Theater back in 1980– Michael Weller’s comedy where a cartoonist creations became real. I inhabited the role of Electra an intergalactic Secretary, who went around saying “Prompto Dwarfman.”
        consider me one of those who sends warm wishes in return. Marilyn

        • Joanne on June 29, 2023 at 11:59 pm

          Thanks for your memories. Would like to have seen you at the Goodman!

  5. John Kehe on June 29, 2023 at 11:26 am

    Those who truly know Chicago KNOW. Grew up in the NW suburbs with a dad who lived and breathed Cubbies. He would take us out of school for opening day every year. My mom often took me or one of my siblings in the city to art fairs and galleries, as she was an exhibiting artist and had many talented friends. Later, my band played and attended shows in and around Old Town and Lincoln Park, during the Summer of Love and before. Chicago has since become an ever better (though unheralded and misunderstood) world-class city with a friendly, creative, and unpretentious spirit. I go back there every chance I get. Though I left in 1969 for a designer’s life in California, and have lived in many beautiful, vibrant cities from coast to coast since, I still think of Chicago as home, and always will. So happy to read your sweet tribute, Joanne.

    • Joanne on June 30, 2023 at 12:02 am

      Thank you! You clearly know it and I have only glimpsed it but look forward to more.

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